Friday Five with Yinka Ilori


Photo by Andy Stagg

It’s no surprise that London-based Yinka Ilori was one of the highlights of the Shoreditch Design Triangle during last year’s London Design Festival. The heavily exhibited artist and designer studied furniture and product design at London Metropolitan University and since then has carved a much-deserved niche for himself in the design world with his upcycled furniture. With so much senseless waste he’s witnessed in the European and West African cultures, Ilori utilizes some of that waste (discarded furniture) and gives it new life by giving a fresh purpose to the reclaimed materials. Known for their bright colors and graphic prints, his signature revitalized chairs take inspiration from his Nigerian heritage, specifically Nigerian parables and African fabrics, giving each one their own story to tell. The recent Frieze New York art fair marked a global partnership with water brand LIFEWTR®, who have made a commitment to supporting up-and-coming artists, one of them being Ilori. He was one of three artists brought to New York to unveil their artwork at Frieze on the bottles of LIFEWTR’s fifth bottle series, Art Beyond Borders, with Ilori’s bottle featuring an eye-catching, colorful design. Read on to see what favorite things this emerging designer chose, in this week’s Friday Five.

1. Brompton Folding Bike
I am so attached to my Brompton Bike it’s actually my best friend. I can take it anywhere with me; on the train, bus, taxi, plane, literally anywhere and it never fails me because it folds up so easy. I’m really into fitness so this gets me from A to B and when I’m busy at work I can still do a bit of cardio.

2. Bose Headphones
Music is a huge part of my life and without music I’m not sure where most of my influences in my work would have come from. Having the noise cancellation function on my headphones has to be the best thing ever! I am able to get up in the morning and not have to listen to anyone’s conversations during my commute but instead listen to my own music. This takes it to another place that’s poetic and beautiful. Bose headphones in the morning and throughout the day allows me dream about whatever I want.

3. Converse, Chuck Taylor All Star 70 Hi
As some people know I love wearing Converse Chuck 2 and I’m not even sure how many pairs I go through a year! Converse, for me, are super comfortable and I can wear them throughout the year. They never fail me, they have to be one of my favourite sneakers and have been for a very very long time. Whenever you see me the first thing you should do is look at my footwear and I promise you I’ll be wearing Converse!

Photo by George Osodi/Bloomberg

4. Lagos, Nigeria
Every time time I go to Nigeria it’s always a beautiful time spent with family and loved ones who I don’t get to see often, so every time is special. Nigeria is full of culture and richness and I always leave there feeling inspired to create new work and tell new stories.

5. Second hand furniture shops
I am always visiting second charity shops and second hand furniture shops, looking for chairs and interesting objects. I am obsessed with chairs and spend most of my weekends visiting charity shops looking for interesting chairs with thought provoking stories. Not that I have any more space at home or in my studio but there is something calming abut looking at old chairs, they always speak to me. My most favorite secondhand furniture shop in London is called Past Caring as they always have amazing objects.